College football is back and West Virginia fans finally get our turn to celebrate the return this Saturday. Though it is sad Mountaineer fans won’t be trekking to Morgantown for all-day tailgate parties, I know we’ll still watch with our families and friends.
I’ll be honest, this season opener doesn’t excite me. Probably because the restart of sports in the United States kicked off with my soccer team turning putrid and everything is sad. So maybe a weekend tailgate and national broadcast WVU football game will make me fall back in love with sports again.
One positive with all of this pandemic mess is that, even though we aren’t packing the Blue Lot for tailgate setups, our homes are much better cooking environments. From using our ovens to not having to prep so much and pack up all our supplies early in the morning, we’ll have more time and space to throw down on Saturdays.
Because the first game of the season is a noon kickoff against Eastern Kentucky, I figured an Appalachian-themed brunch would appease everyone involved.
Biscuits and Gravy Bar
Something that I’ve learned during quarantine is that customizable meals can be really fun for a family. To celebrate West Virginian’s love for biscuits and gravy, let’s go ham with a biscuits and gravy bar with two types of biscuits and three varieties of gravy.
Old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits are a breakfast staple. You can obviously find these frozen or canned in any grocery store and, honestly, I don’t think I’ve every hand-made biscuits for a tailgate. It’s just easier for someone else to make the dough. Do that. Especially because we’ll be hand-making another variety.
No, not like Red Lobster, you aren’t Beyonce. These are more traditional flaky biscuits with cheddar worked into the dough. Just like your traditional biscuits, you need cold butter and buttermilk. Use good cheddar cheese; you could shred the cheese from a block if that’s the best way to find delicious sharp cheddar. These biscuits will provide a pillow bed for the gravy you’ll have on your bar.
Starting off with a slightly unique gravy that holds a special place in the heart of West Virginians, tomato gravy is a great biscuit topper. If you want, you can make this vegetarian or vegan with good fatty oil or go the traditional route with butter or rendered fat.
Some people use crushed tomatoes, others use tomato juice, and some use tomato sauce. If you want to get real fancy, you could slice up tomatoes and fry them in the pan real quick, remove them, and use that as a base for the roux as well. You could then dice or mash the tomatoes and put them in with the liquified tomatoes.
This classic gravy is something every mom and grandmother has perfected. Use the fried bacon to crumble for a topping to the biscuit instead of serving alongside the meal. To enhance the flavor of this, use freshly cracked black pepper and, if you have it, a dash or two of white pepper.
We’ve all had “SOS,” or creamed chipped beef on toast, so why not put it on a breakfast biscuit? Plus, it gives you a reason to buy dried beef, which I’m sure we all miss in our diets (we don’t).
Sure, gravy is technically a topping for your biscuits, but I encourage you to think bigger. Accompany your base food with some of the following:
- Shredded cheese
- Diced ham
- Crumbled bacon
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Sauteed peppers and onions
- Diced roasted potatoes
- Apple butter
- Fruit preserves
We’ve filled one table with a biscuit and gravy bar, so it makes sense now to fill another with a DIY mimosa setup. The keys components to a mimosa bar are, undoubtedly, champagne, orange juice, fresh (or frozen) fruits, and other fruit juices. This will allow your game day guests to show off their mixology degrees and create non-football conversation pieces.
Fresh or Frozen Fruits
- Mango chunks
- Pineapple chunks
It’s a lot of moving parts, but DIY food is a fun social event that can bring people together after a long time apart. I very much encourage keeping your gatherings small, though. Please try to keep your parties to 10 guests or less, but outdoor setups can allow for more room to distance and more friends to gather.
Be responsible, stay well, win the at-home tailgates!